Top 10 tips to help you choose energy efficient appliances
According to Energy.gov.au, appliances in an average Australian household can account for around 30% of the total energy consumption in the home. When you think about that in terms of your Synergy electricity bill and your household’s demand for electricity, it’s probably worth exploring how you could save electricity through efficient appliances.
When you’re ready to replace or upgrade some of your home appliances, it’s worth considering the energy consumption of various models and options.
Here are some tips to help you find energy efficient appliances to help you explore how to save energy in your home.
Tip #1: Beware of a “bargain”
When you’re in the market for a new appliance, it’s always worth checking for discounts and deals – but don’t forget to look beyond the initial cost of an appliance. A more expensive appliance that is more energy efficient could help you save money on electricity in the longer term.
The bottom line: Buying a cheap appliance can often cost you more in the long run if it is less energy efficient than other models. This is because an inefficient appliance often uses more electricity, which means it can cost more money to run.
Tip #2: Look for the energy rating
Whether you’re wandering through the whitegoods aisle or scrolling for online options, always look at the energy rating (or number of stars) of the appliance you’re considering. This information can help you to understand how efficient the appliance is and can be very useful when you’re looking at how to save electricity at home.
The Energy Rating Label is an Australian government-regulated system which enables you to compare the energy efficiency and running costs of appliances before you buy.
Overall, the more stars that an Energy Rating Label has, the more energy efficient an appliance is compared to other options.
Fun fact: The Energy Rating Label system has been used for more than 30 years. In that time energy efficiency technology has really improved. Now, some appliances are available in super-efficient models. An extra row of stars will sometimes appear and you could even find an appliance with a 10-star rating!
Tip #3: Compare energy consumption numbers
Sometimes you might find yourself choosing between two appliances with the same number of stars on their Energy Rating Labels.
Before you make a decision based on the price alone, look for the energy consumption number on the Energy Rating Label of an appliance. This will tell you how much electricity an appliance uses, based on standardised testing which is required to be conducted in line with the official Australian and New Zealand Standard.
The lower the number, the less the appliance costs to run. That means you could save on electricity costs when compared to using a model with a higher number, which could have an impact on your Synergy bill.
Energy tip: If you’re not already using My Account, upgrading your appliances could be the perfect time to start. You can use My Account to learn more about your household’s electricity consumption habits and help understand where you could make other changes to improve your electricity management at home.
Tip #4: Consider the life of an appliance
When you’re shopping for new appliances, you might want to think about the life of that appliance and how you’ll use it. A cheap ‘throwaway’ option may meet your needs for now, but it could cost you, and the environment, more in the longer term.
To compare the total cost of an appliance with another model, including the upfront and running costs over a 10-year lifespan, try the Australian Government’s Energy Rating Calculator. This calculator lets you compare different brands and models and considers usage habits, Energy Label Ratings and upfront costs to help you compare running costs.
Tread lightly: When you buy a new appliance to replace an old one, contact your local council to learn about their recycling options. It’s important to dispose of your old appliances responsibly. Recycling whitegoods and other electronic appliances can help to keep old appliances out of landfill.
Tip #5: Size up your fridge and freezer
Your fridge and freezer stay running all day and night, working hard to keep your food fresh or frozen around the clock. When you consider this, it might not come as a surprise that these home appliances can account for around 8% to 13% of your household energy consumption.
When you’re shopping for a new fridge or freezer, it’s worth choosing the right size for your needs. Having a model that’s too big means you could be using more electricity than you need to – and having a model that’s too small and crammed with food might not be your most efficient option either.
The capacity of a fridge is measured in litres (L) and as a guide:
- A 250-380L model is generally most suitable if you live alone or with one other person
- A 350-530L model is generally most suitable if you’re in a household of three or four
- A model of 440L or more is generally most suitable for a large family or a share house with more than four people
Start by working out what size fridge you need, then use the Energy Rating Label to compare your options.
Tip #6: Clean up with potential dishwasher savings
If you’ve had the same dishwasher for a decade or more, and you’re serious about improving your home energy efficiency, it could be time for an upgrade.
It is estimated that today’s dishwashers use around 25% less energy in general, compared to those manufactured 10 years ago. Look for a model with a high number of stars on both the Energy Rating Label and the Water Rating Label. Models which have good drying performance can be tempting, but it’s important to remember that this might be because they use more power to do this.
Bonus tip: If you have a solar PV system, using your dishwasher in the middle of the day instead of overnight can be an excellent way to be a solar super user. Look for a dishwasher with an in-built timer so you can run your dishwasher during peak solar energy generation times even when you aren't home, which could lead to electricity cost savings as you will be drawing less power from the grid.
Tip #7: Warm up to efficient oven options
Whether you’re a passionate home chef or more of a frozen-pizza household, your oven sits at the heart of your kitchen. Regardless of your culinary skills, your choice of oven could make a difference to your overall energy efficiency.
It could be worth considering:
- Your cooking needs – A dual purpose oven which can function as both a steam oven and conventional oven could be a good option for your household.
- Pre-heating and cooking times – Fan-forced ovens can allow hot air to circulate more evenly, which can reduce your pre-heating and cooking times compared to a conventional oven. This means they could use less electricity compared to other options.
- Heat retention – Triple glazed doors, strong seals and good insulation can help to keep more heat inside your oven, which could help to reduce your cooking times.
Side note: Choosing a new oven or cooktop can be an excellent time to embrace electrification in your home, by selecting an electric model rather than a gas model. If you have solar power, choosing electricity-powered appliances over other options could also help you to make the most of the electricity that your solar PV system generates during the day.
Tip #8: Consider your laundry list
When you need a new washing machine, you could be in a hurry to make a purchase to get your next load on. It’s worth taking the time to find an energy efficient option, especially with so many energy and water-saving features available.
As with dishwashers, washing machines have separate ratings for energy and water use so it’s important to consider both.
While front-loaders can be more expensive, they often use less energy, water and detergent which could save you in the longer term. Top-loaders might cost less to buy and have shorter wash cycles, but it’s important to consider the Energy Rating Label and Water Rating Label consumption figures too.
Tip #9: Know your dryer options
If your clothes dryer has broken down and you’re looking for how to save electricity, it could be the perfect time to consider if you need a dryer at all.
Here in WA, the combination of all those sunny days and sea breezes could mean that your clothes line or an indoor rack are the most cost-efficient drying option for your household.
If you do need a dryer, it’s worth knowing that vented dryers (the most common type) can be cheap to buy but expensive to run. Condenser models can be more expensive than vented options but will generally pump a lot of hot air into the room. Often the most efficient models use a heat pump condenser. These can cost more upfront but can be cheaper to run since they reuse their own heat in the drying cycle.
Set a timer: If you have solar panels, try to use your dryer during the sunniest parts of the day (generally between 10am and 2pm). This can allow you to use more of the electricity generated from your solar PV system to run your dryer and it can also help to balance the demand for electricity across the grid.
Tip #10: Screen your TV’s electricity use
Since it doesn’t involve any kind of housework, a new TV can be one of the most fun new home appliances to buy. Just remember, the size and type of new TV you choose can have an impact on your energy consumption.
In most cases, LCD TVs will be more energy efficient that older-style plasma models. The screen size also has a big impact on the TV's electricity use. If you’re looking for a cinematic large-screen experience, choosing an option with a higher energy efficiency rating could be well worth it in the long term.
TV tip: Consider using a power board to group your TV with other related appliances so that you can easily turn them off when you’re not using them. Appliances on standby mode are still using electricity, so the more you can switch off, the more electricity you could save.
How to calculate your running costs
Smaller appliances such as your kettle, toaster or small heater often don’t have energy star ratings. If you’re looking for ways to save energy, you could calculate their running costs yourself.
Here’s how, using a portable electric heater as an example:
- Find a copy of your Synergy electricity bill (you could use My Account to do this) and find out how much you pay for a unit of electricity.
- Find out how much input power the product uses in kilowatts (kW). This is usually marked on the product packaging or in the manufacturer's online product description in 'watts' (W). As an example, 2000W of electricity is equal to 2kW.
- Estimate the hourly running cost. To do this, multiply the input power in kW by the price of your electricity per kilowatt hour (kWh).
2kW × $0.2855c a kWh = $0.571 an hour
- Estimate the daily running cost by multiplying the cost an hour by the number of hours you are likely to use the appliance each day.
$0.571 × 5 hours = $2.85 a day
- Estimate the yearly running cost by multiplying the daily cost by the typical number of days you are likely to use the appliance each year. For example, you might use a heater 100 days over the year.
$2.85 a day × 100 days = $285 a year
Do this same calculation with more than one model of an appliance and you can work out which one is likely to cost more to run.
For more calculations like this, try our Synergy electricity bill calculator.
Keep exploring new ways to save energy
Once you have found the right appliance for your household, you could consider adopting some energy efficient habits to help manage your demand for electricity.
For other simple ways you could save energy around your home, check out our energy saving tips.